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The fabulous island of Majorca, largest of the Spanish Balearic islands, is a favourite tourist destination. It’s easy to get to, has fabulous weather and a vibrant nightlife that attracts the young and the old. But frankly, there’s more to Majorca than Magaluf, if only people would head out of the towns to explore a little more.
I’m not being critical – I’ve done the package trips to Palma, drank cocktails in Pacha till dawn, and slept off a hangover or two on the famous El Trenc beach – but a few months ago I landed on Majorca with a completely different plan, and I discovered some fabulous places along the way.
Starting with my accommodation I ditched the average three star self-catering hotel and booked independently. If you take time to research the island there are some gems of hotels that are well worth the visit. Have a look at La Residencia, for example. Admittedly it might be outside most people’s price range at around €500 per night, but then it is frequented by celebrities. Formerly owned by Richard Branson, it now belongs to the somewhat upscale and discerning Orient Express Group and staying here means you’ll be treading in the footsteps of Princess Diana, Harrison Ford and the Kind and Queen of Jordan.
But if your wallet has just gone into cardiac arrest, there are some considerably less alarming alternatives in the main towns, like the ultra modern Hotel Tres in old town Palma. Standing on its impressive roof terrace, surveying the winding streets below me, I had a glimpse back to the days when the hotel was once a 16th century palace. It’s elegant and domineering, and a far cry from the hedonism of Magaluf’s pub crawl district.
Drinking in Majorca isn’t all about happy hour, and you might not be aware that Majorca has a thriving wine industry. In fact, its wines are so highly regarded that they are very much sought after by connoisseurs. The trouble is production is so small that the island exports very little, keeping their wines a closely guarded secret. Unless you know where to look, of course. I headed to Binissalem, a region at the very heart of the island where wine growing is coming to its peak, and hunted out the José Luis Ferrer vineyards for an exclusive tasting tour of their 100 year old production. I left an hour or two later, a little more educated, and somewhat unsteady on my feet.
It’s a pity that most tourists hover around the same sandy beaches year after year, surrounded by package-holiday-makers lamenting their run down apartments and beer-swilling neighbours. I encourage you to visit this Mediterranean gem and see it through new eyes. There’s a lot more to this pretty tract of land than is visible at first glance.
Fiona Galloway is a freelance travel writer who publishes her articles on www.candidtraveller.com